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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Doing things with bottles

We were talking about writing and some of the pitfalls students often face, especially those who come to university straight from school. In my Unit Information booklet I devoted a page aimed at helping them avoid a few of these traps.

   These were the days when lecturers had freedom to make their teaching materials unique and interesting. Now, they tend to be standardised and made as uniform as possible, based on the axiom that uniformity is a Good Thing.

   I have nothing against uniformity if it is of a high standard and produces uniformly lively and interesting results, but that doesn't always happen. It is not as important to me that the university's logo is two mm. different in placement on the cover my booklet from that of my colleague. I just wanted the students to read what's in it.

   I'm proud to say that students would tell me it was the only course booklet they had ever read from cover to cover, and that it was even read by students in other units because they enjoyed the style.

   Here's the page from an old Unit Information booklet that came to mind. You will have seen some of these before and they've become tedious, but I doubt if you've seen them all!

And, do you know what? There are a few of them I don't think I agree with any more. But then, I'm no longer writing an academic style of article for Asian Studies Review.


  1. Ah, brilliantly crafted and timely. I'm just putting my (secret, subversive) guide up now. A contemporary addition I include is one for spell check vs proof-read:

    Rule number 3: Do knot deep end on spiel cheque four yaw finale reeds.

    It takes a moment but when I tell them all those words get through the spell check function, it starts to sink in.

    Thanks so much Denis for reminding us it is still OK to have a little fun this way.

    1. It's also a bit annoying when a 'grammatically challenged' student runs a Word spellcheck and is prompted to replace "its" when used correctly with "it's".

  2. Very few things in the world, except perhaps Bob Monkhouse's, 'They used to laugh at me when I said I was going to be a comedian; they're not laughing now', match that headline for guaranteed laughter

    1. Hah! [Oh – I should take that joke more seriously, shouldn't I?]

  3. That list is terrific, a real treasure! Exclamation mark. You are so clever:)

    Julie xx

  4. That hilarious Bottles up Germans anecdote reminds me of another classic, from the book "Slips that Pass in the Type". Apparently, when the young Queen Eliz visted New Zealand years ago she officially opened a new bridge. And, as the local newspaper enthused in the caption...."After she had cut the ribbon Her Majesty pissed over the bridge"!!!!!!!!!! (Even better than the giant Bodoni headline on the front page of the Maryborough Chronicle a few years back that read "Anus Horribilis says Queen")


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